Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Book-signing in Durant to highlight ‘Choctaw: A Cultural Awakening’

The many facets of the Choctaw Nation reflect paths traveled by thousands over hundreds of miles. The Choctaw people persevered through centuries of change and have emerged as one of the largest and progressive nations in the world. Choctaw history and culture have provided a strong foundation and more and more tribal members today are experiencing a revival of interest in their heritage. Capturing the essence of the nation is “Choctaw: A Cultural Awakening,” a striking 200-page collection of images, history and information. A book launch will be held 12:30-2 p.m. on April 30 at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center and Library, 1515 W. Main St., Durant.

Award-winning photographer David Fitzgerald spent nearly two years traveling and gathering images of Choctaws of all ages, historical artifacts, places of interest and activities. Included in the book is one of the last photographs of Choctaw original enrollee Georgia Mae Self. There are photographs of several familiar to the Durant area such as the late Ernest Hooser, and articles by the late Brenda Hampton on the Dawes commission and Bill Coleman on Choctaw Lighthorsemen. “Choctaw: A Cultural Awakening” features families whose lives are engrained with the rich heritage of the Choctaw Nation.

Fitzgerald has received state and national acclaim for his photography. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 2005 and received the Arrell Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oklahoma Center for the Book in 2010.

Accompanying the pictorial collection are Choctaw history and cultural information contributed by Tribal Archeologist Dr. Ian Thompson and Public Relations Executive Judy Allen. The reader is quickly brought up-to-date with an overview of the Choctaw people’s course from DeSoto’s first contact until today.

Thompson, as Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, archaeologist and coordinator for Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), works to protect sacred and historic sites, researches Choctaw history and is dedicated to revitalizing the traditional culture. He learned many of the Choctaw art forms in his youth and instructs others in making bows, arrows, flint knapping, pottery, basketry and more.

Allen has worked with Thompson on many projects and has been committed to sharing the Choctaw culture throughout the world. She has been instrumental in the recognition of the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I who were inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame last year. Allen was also named one of Oklahoma’s 50 Women Making a Difference in 2012.

Exploring through photos and stories by spiritual and historical leaders such as Virginia Espinoza, Eleanor Caldwell and Bill Coleman, “Choctaw: A Cultural Awakening” shows that members of the third-largest Indian Nation are from all walks of life, performing diverse jobs, and come from an amazing heritage.

Be awakened to the beauty of tribal art, the unique savor of Choctaw food and the excitement of learning about Tvshka Homma – Red Warriors! Fitzgerald, Thompson and Allen will be available to share their experiences with visitors at the book launch April April 30 in Durant.

Copies of the “Choctaw: A Cultural Awakening” photo book are also available for purchase by logging onto choctawstore.com or by calling 888.932.9199.